Olmito State Fish Hatchery is an often overlooked, but great location for finding odonates,
birds, butterflies, and turtles.
Olmito State Fish Hatchery, take the US-77/US-83 Expressway southeast towards Brownsville to the community of Olmito.
Just past the FM-1732 exit at Olmito (1.2 miles), take the Stillman Rd./Old Alice Rd exit from the Expressway.
Going south on the Frontage Rd. at Stillman Rd., drive 0.5 miles to Fish Hatchery Road on your right. Turn right (west)
onto Fish Hatchery Road and go 0.7 miles, crossing the RR tracks and always veering right, to the State Fish Hatchery.
When the road ends at the Olmito Fish State Fish Hatchery/State WMA, take the curve to the right, then a sharp left, and
park in the parking lot on your left.
Your view downhill and to the left (south) from the parking lot.
Your view downhill and to the west, straight across from the parking
Your view downhill and to the right (north) from the parking
We have seen Texas
Spiny Softshell Turtles – Trionyx spiniferus emoryi, digging holes and laying eggs in the hill slope
just in front of the parking lot.
One of several ponds, this one to the west, that should be searched
for waders, ducks, and shorebirds.
All of the
ponds should be checked for odonates. Olmito State Fish Hatchery can be an excellent location for many species of dragonflies
and damselfies. Caribbean Yellowface – Neoerythromma ultellatum and
Spot-tailed Dasher – Micrathyria aequalis, LRGV specialties, are just a
few of the species of odonata that we have found here.
The small resaca that is behind the Office, downhill and to
the south is excellent for dragonflies and damselflies. Watch for Green Jays, Long-billed Thrashers, Couch's Kingbirds,
Groove-billed Anis, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulets,and Great Kiskadees in the trees. During migration, the
shady trees at this tiny resaca can be excellent for numerous passerines.
Montezuma Baldcypress - Tasodium mucronatum border
the east side of the small resaca. Several species of darners have been seen hanging from these trees. Watch for
Least Grebes in the resaca, also.
Water levels in some of the research ponds are kept low, making them
very good for shorebird and wader viewing. Be sure to watch for the many species of dragonflies that work the ponds.
All of the research
ponds to the west are surrounded by cattails, but you can always find a vantage point to peer into them for odonates and birds.
You can always use a scope on the eastern hillside for a better vantage point to search for the many species of water birds
that are found in the ponds. Almost every visit will turn up a Ringed Kingfisher.
The hillside and the eastern sides of the ponds are constantly
kept mowed as are each of the wide divisions between the ponds, in order to help you see and avoid rattlesnakes. You
should, however, always be aware that you are indeed in rattlesnake country.
Numerous species of lizards, snakes, turtles and tortoises can be found here.
At the west end of every research pond is a line of trees that can be
excellent for birds and should be checked.
We have found butterfly
species to be abundant at Olmito State Fish Hatchery, despite the lack of Eupatorium species. The mown areas
are exellent for crescents and checkerspots. White Peacocks are extremely abundant, here. Search all the vines
and shrubs for several other species of butterflies.
During migration, listen for the several species of rails we
have heard here, particularly early in the mornings. Common Yellowthroats and Marsh Wrens are almost always found here.
Walk Fish Hatchery Road to the north from the parking lot, checking
the trees and shoulder of the road on the west side for birds and butterflies.
Before leaving, drive slowly north down this road for 0.4 miles, stopping at the entrance to Camp
Lula Sams and search both sides of the irrigation canal for dragonflies and damselflies.
You are only a few miles from Resaca de la Palma State Park-WBC, which can be reached by going back
northwest on the Expressway and taking FM-1732 to the west towards the Park. Or you can continue on to Brownsville (just
2 miles to the southeast) from Stillman Road/Old Alice Rd. for the many birding locations that Brownsville has to offer.